The first local industries were a sawmill and grist mill along the Moira River. Railways and lumber were major employers in the mid-1800s, while the modern economy relies heavily on manufacturing.
It was the site of an Anishinaabe (Mississaugas) village in the 18th century known as Asukhknosk. The area was settled by United Empire Loyalists. It was first called Singleton's Creek after an early settler, George Singleton, and then Meyer's Creek after prominent settler and industrialist John Walden Meyers, one of the founders of Belleville who built a sawmill and grist mill. It was renamed Belleville in honour of Lady Arabella Gore in 1816, after a visit to the settlement by Sir Francis Gore and his wife.
Another important family in the growth of Belleville was that of Henry Corby, the founder of H. Corby Distillery, who had arrived in 1832. He promoted the municipality and his son Henry Corby, Jr. (Harry) donated the public library, helped develop the park at Massassaga Point, established the Corby Charitable Fund, helped raise funds to build the first bridge across the Bay of Quinte and donated Corby Park.
Belleville became an important railway junction with the completion of the Grand Trunk Railway in 1856; this plus a booming trade in lumber and successful farming in the area helped increase the commercial and industrial growth.
Belleville's beautiful High Victorian Gothic town hall was built in 1873 to house the public market and administrative offices. The overall appearance is similar to the original even today.
Belleville's climate has four distinct seasons. The city's hot summers and cold winters are moderated by its location near Lake Ontario. Winter snowfall is somewhat limited due to the increased frequency of precipitation falling as rain during the winter months. In the summer months, severe thunderstorm activity is usually limited because of the non-favourable lake breeze conditions.
The summer months do not typically experience exceedingly hot temperatures, however humidity levels can make daytime highs uncomfortable. Summer rainfall is usually modest, and delivered by passing thunderstorms or warm fronts.
Winter temperatures are highly variable, even in one season. Air masses change frequently, and while a few days may see above freezing temperatures at a time in January, the next week may bring cold and snowfall.
Autumn is usually mild, with an increase in precipitation starting in late September as conditions for fall storms develop.
- By car
- The city is on Highway 401, roughly a two-hour drive east of Toronto and fifty minutes west of Kingston.
- By train
- Belleville is served by VIA Rail's "Corridor" services (Toronto-Kingston-Montréal and Toronto-Kingston-Ottawa)
- By bus
- Megabus (Coach Canada) provides service from Toronto including service from Toronto Pearson International Airport.
- By air
- There are no scheduled civilian passenger flights to Trenton or Oshawa. The closest major passenger airport is Toronto Pearson International Airport in Malton (YYZ IATA) — awkwardly west of Toronto.
- By boat
- Belleville is on the Bay of Quinte, which leads through Napanee-Adolphustown-Prince Edward County to Lake Ontario. Boat launch is available at the end of South George Street, at the end of South Herchimer Street and at Meyer's Peir.
- Meyer's Pier, south end of Front St & Pinnacle St, ☏ . Fuel, visitor's docks, pump-out, showers, shore power, ice, restaurant, bicycles. VHF 68.
There is a limited local city bus service within Belleville; it is also possible to reach Picton or Napanee from Belleville using the Deseronto Transit system. The Trenton and Napanee commuter bus services do not run on weekends.
A car is the most flexible means to get around as Belleville is a small city surrounded by largely rural attractions such as apple orchards, strawberry farms and wineries. Belleville is a suitable jumping-off point to visit Prince Edward County (Picton, Bloomfield, Wellington, Sandbanks Provincial Park, Lake on the Mountain), Trenton/Brighton, Napanee or other villages in the area.
Within the city, there are two good paved trails suitable for cycling; the 4.4 km Riverfront Trail runs from Victoria Park along the Moira River to Lions Park while the Waterfront Trail runs from the western edge of town around Zwick's Park ending in East Bayshore Park.
- Glanmore National Historic Site, 257 Bridge Street East, ☏ . Sep–May: Tu-Su 1PM-4:30PM; Jun-Aug 10AM-4:30PM. Historical museum in a restored 1883 heritage house of exceptional 2nd Empire architecture. Glanmore was built in 1882-1883 for wealthy banker J.P.C. Phillips and his wife Harriet Dougall Phillips. The grand interior features beautiful hand-painted ceilings and ornate woodwork. Many of Glanmore’s rooms have been restored to the 1890s. They feature period room displays containing some original furnishings and beautiful objects from the Couldery Collection. Local history is highlighted in Glanmore’s lower level, and includes the Early Homestead exhibit and Maid of All Work: Domestic Service at Glanmore. Adults $8, seniors & students $6.50, children (5-12) $4.50, children under 5 free, family (2A/3C) $25.
- The Regimental Museum, 187 Pinnacle St, ☏ . Tu-Th 1PM-4PM. Two-room museum on main floor of Belleville Armoury. The Hastings & Prince Edward Regiment (the Hasty Ps) is an army reserve which traces its roots to several 1800s militia units.
- Belleville Theatre Guild, 256 Pinnacle St., ☏ .
- Concerts on the Bay, West Zwick's Island Park (Lions Pavilion). Seasonal concert series, Wednesdays and Sundays. Zwick's Park is on Hwy 62 South, just before the Bay bridge to Prince Edward County. Free/by donation..
- Empire Theatre, 321 Front St, ☏ . M-Sa 10AM-6PM (box office). Centre for the performing arts.
- Party Castle, 393 Sidney St, ☏ . Indoor playground, music, dance and fitness lessons.
- Quinte Sports and Wellness Centre, 265 Cannifton Rd, ☏ . The Yardmen Arena is home to OHL's Belleville Bulls (Sep-Mar); a multipurpose facility allows recreational swimming in an eight-lane pool, skating, walking, running. Gymnasium, fitness centre and live performance venue.
Belleville's downtown is located on Front Street, on the east bank of the Moira River. Traffic in the Windsor-Quebec corridor used to follow Dundas Street (old Highway 2) through Belleville; this was bypassed by Highway 401 in the early 1960s and newer "big box" development (such as the Quinte Mall) has mostly extended southward from the Highway 62/401 crossroads (exit 543) with a strong presence of various national chains on North Front Street (62). The downtown remains home to small independent restaurants and merchants.
- Downtown Belleville, Front Street. The city's original commercial district on the east bank of the Moira River, various small independent shops and restaurants.
- Farmers Market, Market Square (Front and Dundas Sts.). Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays year-round.
- Quinte Mall, 390 North Front St. 125-store regional shopping centre. Home of the last Sam the Record Man, a ghost of what was once a regional chain of more than 100 locations in the vinyl LP era.
- L'Auberge de France, 304 Front St., ☏ . M-F 10AM-6PM, Sa 9AM-6PM. Bakery and bistro, $35 prix-fixe menu for large groups.
- Boathouse Seafood Restaurant, 32 South Front St., ☏ . Fish and chips, crabs, boat docking at waterfront patio. Beside Victoria Harbour Marina.
- Burger Revolution, 300 North Front St, ☏ . M-Sa 11AM-9PM, Su noon-4PM. Flame-grilled burgers, sausage, poutine.
- Earl and Angelo's, 182 Front St., ☏ . M-Th 11AM-9:30PM, F 11AM-10:30PM, Sa 5PM-10:30PM. Steak and seafood, bar, martinis. $30-40.
- Northway Restaurant, 205 N. Front St., ☏ . Steaks, burgers, Canadian and Greek foods.
- The Old Firehouse, 394 Front St, ☏ . Burgers, soups, salads, breakfast foods, Wi-Fi, catering.
- Paulo's Trattoria and Dinkel's Restaurant, 38 and 44 Bridge Street East, ☏ , fax: . Italian restaurant, extensive local wine list.
- Reid's Dairy, 222 Bell Blvd, ☏ , toll-free: . Inexpensive sundaes and milkshakes.
- Sans Souci, 240 Front St., ☏ . M-W 10AM-5PM, Th F 10AM-9:30PM, Sa 10AM-4PM. Soups, sandwiches, catering.
- Slapshot Bar & Grill, 151 Cannifton Rd, ☏ . Sports bar, chicken wings.
- Comfort Inn Belleville, 200 North Park St (401 exit #543), ☏ , fax: . Refrigerators, 32" TV, wi-fi, meeting room for 12 people, hot breakfast, newspaper, pet-friendly.
- 1 Best Western Belleville, 387 North Front St (401 exit #543), ☏ , fax: . Check-in: 3PM, check-out: 11AM. Indoor pool, hot tub, Wi-Fi, meeting facilities for 100 people, hot breakfast.
- Fairfield Inn and Suites by Marriott Belleville, 407 North Front St (401 exit #543), ☏ , toll-free: , fax: . Fitness centre, indoor pool and spa. From $130.
- Holiday Inn Express and Suites Belleville, 291 North Front St, toll-free: . Check-in: 3PM, check-out: 11AM. Indoor pool and whirlpool, fitness centre, Internet, Express Start hot breakfast bar included.
- Park Lane Motel, 648 Dundas St. W., ☏ .
- Salmon River Motel, 6421 Old Hwy 2, Shannonville, ☏ . 13-room country motel on 15 acres.
Wi-fi is available in various coffee shops, such as Starbucks (in Chapters bookstore, near Quinte Mall), Tim Hortons (ten locations) and McDonalds. There is also a Highway 401 rest stop (ONroute) in Trenton (both directions) which offers one hour free Wi-Fi access, no password required. Belleville has one public library (254 Pinnacle St, +1 613-968-6731) with a café and art gallery.
Deseronto is a small town on the north shore of the Bay of Quinte, between Belleville and Napanee, which has one Inn and one B&B.
- Centennial Park. Waterfront park with boat launch ramp.
- Deseronto Market, Rathbun Park (Centre and Main Streets), ☏ . May-Oct: Sa 8:30AM-4PM. Outdoor market with artisans, craftspeople, produce, foods and entertainment.
- The O'Connor House, 369 Main St, ☏ . Tu-Sa 11AM-4PM. English tea room.
Shannonville is 15 km (10 miles) east of Belleville, near the Tyendinaga Mohawk Reserve.
- 1 Shannonville Motorsport Park, 7047 Old Highway 2, Shannonville, ☏ . Car and motorcycle race track, drag racing, FAST School for motorbikes.
- Tyendinaga Cavern and Caves, ☏ . July 1-early Sep: daily 10AM-5PM; late May-June 30: Sa Su only. Cave tour, sensible shoes and flashlight recommended. $12/person, cash only.
Stirling is a tiny village 25 km (15 miles) northwest of Belleville; follow Hwy 62 north to old highway 14 (Foxboro-Stirling Road) in Foxboro.
- Farmtown Park, 437 West Front St, Stirling, ☏ . Hastings County Museum of Agricultural Heritage, complete with indoor re-creation of a 1930s rural village.
|Routes through Belleville|
|Toronto ← Trenton ←||W E||→ Napanee → Kingston|
|Toronto ← Trenton ←||W E||→ Napanee → Kingston|
|Algonquin Provincial Park via ← Maynooth ←||N S||→ Prince Edward County → END|
|Tweed ←||N S||→ END|